Our Opinion: Quiz Wilson mayor, city council hopefuls at candidate forum

A Wilson Times Co. editorial
Posted 10/11/19

Want to know how your Wilson City Council hopefuls plan to patch potholes, lure new industries to town, expand parks and recreation offerings and keep Wilsonians safe from crime?

If you come out …

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Our Opinion: Quiz Wilson mayor, city council hopefuls at candidate forum

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Want to know how your Wilson City Council hopefuls plan to patch potholes, lure new industries to town, expand parks and recreation offerings and keep Wilsonians safe from crime?

If you come out to The Wilson Times’ city candidate forum from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, you can ask these questions and more, then decide which mayoral and council candidates are the best choice to represent you at City Hall.

We’re bringing candidates and voters together on Monday to encourage participation in local democracy and help Wilsonians make informed choices in the voting booth. The event follows a sheriff candidate forum in 2018 and a city council candidate forum in 2017, along with similar community Q&As in years past.

Wilson Community College’s DelMastro Auditorium has plenty of seats. There are no tickets to buy and there’s no admission charge at the door, so make your plans to join us Monday for 90 minutes of conversation that may help chart our city’s course.

Overall turnout for Wilson County’s 2017 municipal elections was a disheartening 6.83% of eligible voters. Let’s leapfrog that low bar this year and show our community that we care about choosing the leaders who make decisions on our behalf and serve as stewards of the public purse.

In the city of Wilson, the mayoral contest is generating the most buzz. Longtime Mayor Bruce Rose faces a challenge from Carlton Stevens Jr., and both campaigns are mobilizing their supporters.

Even under Wilson’s council-manager form of government where the mayor chairs city council meetings and otherwise serves a largely ceremonial role as civic ambassador, there’s a lot of interest in which candidate will win the gavel.

Don’t overlook the three city council seats up for grabs, however. While the mayor only votes to break a tie, each of the seven council members is expected to vote on local issues at each meeting. A good council member must be an advocate for his or her district and a consensus-builder who can persuade colleagues and identify opportunities for compromise.

Next month, Wilson will elect a councilwoman to join the currently all-male governing body. Brenda Watson Avery and Gillettia Morgan are both seeking retired Councilman A.P. Coleman’s District 1 seat.

In District 4, James Johnson — whose fellow councilmen elected him mayor pro-tem — faces a challenge from Davonta Ferguson. In District 2, Councilman Michael Bell is running unopposed.

We’ve invited all seven candidates to join the Times’ editor on the DelMastro Auditorium stage and share their ideas and goals with Wilson voters. If a candidate is unable to attend, he or she has the opportunity to designate a surrogate to participate.

Previous candidate forums have produced thoughtful questions and insightful responses. We expect this year will be no different, and we urge Wilsonians to come out Monday afternoon and make this forum a true community conversation.

Early voting begins Wednesday and continues through Nov. 3 in advance of Election Day on Nov. 5. While candidates will continue campaigning in earnest, Monday’s forum is their opportunity to address city residents before anyone casts a ballot.

If you can’t join us at the DelMastro Auditorium, watch a streaming video of the event broadcast through Facebook Live. Search for “Wilson Times Co.” on Facebook and click “like” to receive a Facebook notification when the video starts.


As is customary, we are receiving and publishing letters to the editor from writers who wish to voice their support for local candidates.

While The Wilson Times and this editorial page do not endorse candidates for public office, we welcome and encourage advocacy from our readers. Letters promote discussion, debate and community participation.

We publish all endorsement letters we receive that are not libelous or vulgar and do not include personal attacks or unverified factual claims. Criticism is OK, but keep it civil.

Letters should be 350 words or fewer and must include the writer’s name, hometown and a daytime phone number for verification purposes. Phone numbers are not printed. In the interest of fairness, candidate endorsements will not be considered for guest columns — longer opinion pieces that appear with the writer’s portrait. All submissions will be held to the letter length limit.

The deadline for endorsement letters is 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. That ensures we can publish all remaining letters in the Saturday and Monday editions. Endorsement letters are not printed on Election Day.